Posted in Humanities

El Patron : The Stalin of the Country of Opium


“There were eight of us,” said El Patrón, “and only I lived to grow up. Don’t you think I am owed to those lives?” (Farmer 233). El Patron, a 140-year-old drug lord is the main antagonist in The House of the Scorpion. It is a story set in the country of Opium ruled by him. Matt is a clone of El Patron but being mistreated as an animal, however, he leads the keepers in a rebellion and becomes the new ruler of Opium. In The House of the Scorpion, Nancy Farmer reveals many aspects of El Patron’s fascinating characterization; we gradually recognized him from the “light” in Matt childhood to a man with a twisted soul of the most feared devil.


Throughout the story, El Patron was depicted as Feeble old man, a ruthless and manipulative drug lord, and a ruler that Tam Lin thought as two-sided and enthralling. El Patron was an old man that “was extremely thin, with shoulder-length white hair neatly combed beside a face so seamed and wrinkled” (Farmer 54). From his appearance, we could clearly tell that he was extremely old and frail that it almost seemed like he “was part of the wheelchair” (54). However, his weak appearance distinguished with the aura of his dominating presence. Since evil antagonists are usually portrayed as monstrous, El Patron grabs our attention because he just seems like a mysterious and quite likable old man. This contrasts with the tremendous power he holds and his existence as the greatest antagonist Matt will face. Furthermore, we could see that El Patron has twisted mind from his brutal actions: “Before the next minute had passed, they had all fallen to the ground…he was adding to his Dragan hoard, and he wanted to be buried with it…Unfortunately, the dragon hoard included people” (375-376). El Patron has planned this all out to poison his family members with the wine so they could be buried with him together. His creates a cult of personality that can manipulate Tam Lin even after his death. El Patron’s cruelness might be caused by the tragic death of his family members in his childhood. El Patron could not live out of his past, in fact, it caused his sick view on conquering death and obtaining the ultimate power. Even if he dies, he wants his family to die so they could “be together forever” in his tomb. Finally, Tam Lin thought of El Patron as a person with darkness hidden behind his warmth when he told Matt, “El Patron has his good side and his bad side. Very dark indeed is his majesty when he wants to be. He grew large and green until he shadowed over the whole forest, but most of his branches are twisted” (70). Tam Lin knows all the dark sides of El Parton and believes that his “branches are twisted”. Tam Lin refers to El patron’s “shadow” as his supremacy and control over the country. His twisted branches signify the misuse of it. Despite Tam Lin recognized El Parton’s immoralities, Tam Lin still believes that dictator “had an instinct for who he could enslave” while his “power is a strange thing, lad. It’s a drug and people like me crave for it” (Farmer 243). Tam Lin considers El Patron as charismatic, having the ability to manipulate others and gain loyal followers, including himself. He is trapped and “enslaved” by El Patron’s power. Therefore, he warns Matt about El Patron‘s dark side and twisted branches to guide him towards a different path. In conclusion, El Patron’s fragile appearance contrasts with how he uses his power for inhumane actions, and Tim Lin believes that enthralling leader is misusing his power.


In history, many leaders and dictators have similar personality traits like El Patron. The word “El Patron” even means boss or lord in Spanish. For example, Stalin from the Russian revolution also has a callous personality when he uses his power to raise fear in his country. He sends people to labor camps for reasons like being late for work and ends up killing millions of Russians. On the other hand, El Patron turns people into eejits to enslave them for work and planned the murder of his family members. However, they both have massive groups of follower who worship them. People think of them as some who is respectable and would follow their orders without much question. That is a way they keep people under control and manipulate them with their power. Therefore, El Patron and Stalin are very similar in their ruthless personality and how others view them.


Citations: “El Patrón.” Villains Wiki,

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